David head south in a stolen car after finding a secret message on a box of chocolates saying "MEET MICKEY NOON, 2 DAYS" intended for David's dead ex-lover Jeanine.
There I was, gunning my black Porsche down some highway at 110 miles an hour trying to get to Disney World to meet with Mickey Mouse at the hotdog stand. Someone had secretly planted crummy music in the tape compartment, no polka, so I had the radio on, full blast, Jamaican iron pan music going in and out of sync with the sound of the windshield wipers.
Though when I looked around, it wasn't actually raining, it was sunny, and the windshield wipers weren't on at all, and the music was all just a curious pounding in my head and the rhythm of white dashed lines hurtling at me on the road. I vowed not to mix uppers with absynthe again, and popped a few valium to steady my nerves.
Driving is really quite simple. You just keep going in the direction you want to go. After getting confused a few times I bought an atlas. I found Florida, it was in the south, so I knew I had to go south. The sun rises in the east, so I should keep the sun on my right in the morning, or my left, or something like that. After another day, I looked at the atlas again and drew little pictures of the earth and sun on the dashboard with lipstick I found in my glove compartment. I took exits whenever it looked like I was straying too far from south. I was never really lost, just confused. No one is ever really lost, if they know who they are and where they are. If you are lucky, you know who you are, and if you just look around, you know where you are!
I stopped a few times for gas and ate at little shopping mall things on the side of the highway. I never slept, but put the seat back in the car, slowed to 80, and closed my eyes for little bits at a time. As long as the dashed lines on the road kept hurtling toward me I knew I was okay.
I made Disney World before noon the second day.
I now know why people go there. All these lumpy middle aged people walking around in bright clothing with their little kids. The kids scream, the middle aged people hit them. Teen guys and girls in tight shirts and pants preen and slaver over each other, practically exuding hormones. What a spectacle!
Disney World, daylight, and warmth had conspired to put me in a strangely good mood. A bit warm for my trenchcoat, but it concealed a bottle of whisky I was sipping at. The warm slippery rim of the bottle tickled my stubble. I wandered around asking people for directions to the hotdog stand. The ones with children avoided me, grabbing their kids away, favoring me with dirty looks. Finally a twelve year old girl in spandex and platforms pointed me at the hotdog stand. "Get a shave," she added.
I went to the hotdog stand. It was noon. Mickey was there, nearby, waving at children. Eight feet tall, big ears, you know. He looked over at me and waved. I waved at him and motioned him over with a tip of my bottle.
``Hello Mickey!'' I said.
``Hello there!'' he said.
Now was my chance. ``Jeanine sent me. She couldn't make it.''
Mickey pondered a bit then nodded, still waving at passerbys. ``Di will be disappointed. Got the stuff?''
I tugged at my coat. ``Yeah.''
He handed me a key. ``Usual place, don't be late.''
I took the key. ``Of course.''
``That's right! Have a nice day!'' and Mickey strode off in a jolly manner, waving at kids, bouncing around. I looked at the key, a door key, not a locker key, no markings on it save ``do not duplicate.'' I looked around myself.
Disney world is a big place.
I spent three days, used up all my crystal meth, and took seven photos for tourists. One of them even took one with me, there I am, you can see me in the Jones' photo album, if you know them. I've got my arm around dad, smiling idiotically, a key clutched in my left hand.
I found the door, late one night, the back door of a warehouse out by Epcot. Attempt number 1,561. Pushed the key in. Click. It fit. Turned it. Pushed the door open. Darkness. Stepped in, closed the door behind me.
Took two steps in the darkness. Muffled steps on carpet. Fished around in my coat. Struck a match.
Suddenly giant lights went on overhead, illuminating a giant ballroom, finely furnished in gold and silk. People standing around me, still as statues, wearing party gear, suddenly leapt up and yelled ``Surprise!''
It was a surprise party. For me. A pretty girl in a french maid costume put a cup of punch in my hand and took my bag away from me.
The man immediately in front of me raised his glass in a toast and cleared his throat theatrically. ``To my dear brother! Returned at last! Slay the fatted calf!'' and everyone laughed politely and cheered.
I thought, now, finally, I've lost my mind.
The group fell silent again, looking at me expectantly. The main who had just spoken, spoke again: ``Brother! Do you not recognize me? Has it been so long? Take a good look.''
He looks like me, an inch taller, skin golden where mine is simply olive toned, hair sandy bleached blond and long, pulled back in a pony tail where mine is dark, medium length and messy. Muscles beautiful and well defined, small cleft in his chin. My dimples. My eyes, though a little lighter without the dark circles under them. A good strong nose like mine, his a little more hawklike. Small cleft in his chin. White oxford shirt, rolled up sleeves, golden vest, loose fitting slacks, loafers.
He lowered his head, then looked back at me.
``You were my best agent once. Brother. We were the perfect team. I'd send you out, you'd do things. Don't you recall? You were ... are ... the muscle behind my operation. You would clean up all the messes, eliminate the competition. Infiltrate foreign governments. You were the best! Espionage, demolition, reverse engineering alien artifacts, you name it!''
I didn't really know what to say. I finished my glass of punch in one gulp then took my bottle out and started on that in a big swig.
``Ha! Still drinking! Don't you remember? I'd always have to find you after a few years. Why, don't you remember Bankok? I rescued you there. You were drinking yourself into a coma. I saved you. Previous to that I found you in China frequenting opium dens, lost in the sweet smelling herbs. Another time in the middle ages, frequenting alchemists for whatever concoction they had to try out on you. Rome, drinking, Kush, black lotus.
``Eventually I let you go again, you just disappear. You get sick of the world, tired of it, being around all the time, watching ephemeral mortal friends grow old and die. You make friends, get involved. I do not. I loathe them all, even Hoskins over there.
A muscular balding man in a tuxedo stepped forward. ``Yes boss?''
``Step forward please, I'm going to show my brother something.''
``Okay.'' He stepped forward, a foot away from the lunatic calling me his brother.
With that the lunatic opened up Hoskin's trachea with his left pinkie fingernail and watched arc after arc of blood shoot across the room in mild artistic appraisal.
``Gurgle!'' Hoskins said, and expired.
``Well, I'm saving you again, brother, just like before. We can start up again, you're my best agent, you still can be.''
I took another swig on my bottle. ``Jeanine dead, you prick?''
He glanced at Hoskins. ``What do you think.''
``Yes, yes, yes, we've been through this all before. I do it everytime. it's the only way to lull you out of your reverie and come seek me. You were wasting your life up there drinking away, indulging yourself in all those indulgences of yours. ``
Dull hate. Memories of me and Jeanine shooting up together, snorting coke, making love in a deserted laundramat. I took another swig. ``The negatives?''
``Forgeries, Jeanine was never down here. We simply planted them in your room. No one ever gave them to you. I just had them put there. Then we killed Jeanine and sent you the chocolates with the note, just to make sure you'd come. Ingenious, no?''
``Couldn't you have called.''
He looked puzzled. ``What?''
I waved my bottle around in his face. ``Called! You know: telephones! Or written a letter. Why did you have to kill her?''
``Hmmm? Oh yes, I suppose I could have called you. It's never really worked that way before though. We've always done it like this. What difference does it make. You're here. I did call, basically. We've always done it like this. Classically, the only way to get your attention has been to take your drugs away or kill your women. Our only other option in this regard was exterminating every drug dealer in the greater Boston area. While feasible, it would have attracted alot more attention than I care for at the moment.
``Once I sent an army to cut down every black lotus plant on Crete. You were so enraged you organized every addict on that island into a crack strike team and overthrew the Assyrian Empire. They were fully six hundred miles away and had nothing to do with it of course, but you wound up reigning over all of mesopotamia as God on Earth for over a decade. I was so proud I let your girlfriend live.''
I tried furiously to collect my thoughts. ``So, what we're saying here is that every couple of hundred years, you come along, kill my girlfriend, leave cryptic clues around and let me chase you down, whereupon you and I work together, I as your agent, until another twenty or thirty years goes by and I get sick of it and leave.''
``Yes, that is essentially, accurate.''
You know, I had a year of electroshock therapy at MacClean's. 1977 to 1980
McKlane's? Some fast food psychotherapy place? Is that what they do now adays?
Basically. A year. I don't remember any of this. In fact, I think you're out of your skull. You look like my brother, I'll give you that, but my features are far from unique. When they finished with me I didn't know my own name. I couldn't recognize cream of wheat. they made it for me for breakfast. I tried patching the walls with it.
They switched me over to frosted flakes. Then i
``Inanities, brother, what has happened to that keen mind of yours, eh? he looked a bit worried. Why don't you get some rest. Here's your room. there's a full wardrobe in case you didn't bring one. There will be someone in in the morning to prepare you for breakfast.''
to be continued...